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and shade, warm and cold colours. That there is an art in the management and disposition of those means will be easily granted, and it is equally certain, that this art is to be acquired by a careful examination of the works of those who have excelled in it.
I shall here set down the result of the observations which I have made on the works of those artists who appear to have best understood the management of light and shade, and who may be considered as examples for imitation in this branch of the art.
Titian, Paolo Veronese, and Tintoret, were among the first painters who reduced to a system what was before practised without any fixed principle, and consequently, neglected occasionally. From the Venetian painters, Rubens extracted his scheme of composition, which was soon understood and adopted by his countrymen, and extended even to the minor painters of familar life in the Dutch school.
When I was at Venice, the method I took to · avail myself of their principles was this. When I
observed an extraordinary effect of light and shade in any picture, I took a leaf of my pocket-book, and darkened every part it in the same gradation of light and shade as the picture, leaving the white paper untouched to represent the light, and this without any attention to the subject, or to the drawing of the figures. A few trials of this kind will be sufficient to give the method of their conduct in the management of their lights, After a few experiments I found the paper blotted nearly alike: their general practice appeared to be, to allow not above a quarter of the picture for the light, including in this portion both the principal and secondary lights; another quarter to be as dark as possible; and the remaining half kept in mezzotint or half shadow.
Rubens appears to have admitted rather more light than a quarter, and Rembrandt much less, scarce an eighth: by this conduct Rembrandt's light is extremely brilliant, but it costs too much; the rest of the picture is sacrificed to this one object. That light will certainly appear the brightest which is surrounded with the greatest quantity of shade, supposing equal skill in the artist.
By this means you may likewise remark the various forms and shapes of those lights, as well as the objects on which they are fung; whether a figure, or the sky, a white napkin, animals, or utensils, often introduced for this purpose only. It may be observed likewise, what portion is strongly relieved, and how much is united with its ground; for it is necessary that some part (though a small one is sufficient) should be sharp and cutting against its ground, whether it be light on a dark, or dark on a light ground, in order to give firmness and distinctness to the work; if on the other hand it is relieved on every side, it will appear as if inlaid on its ground. Such a blotted paper, held at a distance from the eye, will strike the spectator as something excellent for the disposition of light and shadow, though he does not distinguish whether it is a history, a portrait, a landscape, dead game, or any thing else; for the same principles extend to every branch of the art.
Whether I have give an exact account, or made a just division of the quantity of light admitted into the works of those painters, is of no very great consequence : let every person examine and judge for himself: it will be sufficient if I have suggested a mode of examining pictures this way, and one means at least of acquiring the principles on which they wrought.
NOTE XL. VERSE 441.
Then only justly spread, when to the sight
The highest finishing is labour in vain, unless at the same time there be preserved a breadth of light and shadow; it is a quality, therefore, that is more frequently recommended to students, and insisted upon, than any other whatever; and, perhaps, for this reason, because it is most apt to be neglected, the attention of the artist being so often entirely absorbed in the detail.
To illustrate this, we may have recourse to
Titian's bunch of grapes, which we will suppose placed so as to receive a broad light and shadow. Here, though each individul grape on the light side has its light, and shadow, and reflection, yet altogether they make' but one broad mass of light: the slightest sketch, therefore, where this breadth is preserved, will have a better effect, will have more the appearance of coming from a master-hand, that is, in other words, will have more the characteristic and generale of nature, than the most laborious finishing, where this breadth is lost or neglected.
NOTE XLI. VERSE 469.
Which mildly mixing, every social dye
The same method may be used to acquire that harmonious effect of colours, which was recommended for the acquisition of light and shade, the adding colours to the darkened paper ; but as those are not always at hand, it may be sufficient, if the picture which you think worthy of imitating be considered in this light, to ascertain the quantity of warm, and the quantity of cold colours. . .
The predominant colours of the picture ought to be of a warm mellow kind, red or yellow; and no more cold colour should be introduced than will be just enough to serve as a ground or foil to set off and give value to the mellow colours, and never should itself be a principal; for this purpose, a quarter of the picture will be sufficient: those cold colours, whether blue, grey, or green, are to be dispersed about the ground or surrounding parts of the picture, wherever it has the appearance of wanting such a foil, but sparingly employed in the masses of light.
I am confident that an habitual examination of the works of those painters who have excelled in harmony, will, by degrees, give a correctness of eye that will revolt at discordant colours, as a mu, sician's ear revolts at discordant sounds. R.
NOTE XLII. VERSE 517.
By mellowing skill thy ground at distance cast,
By a story told of Rubens, we have his authority for asserting, that to the effect of the picture the back-ground is of the greatest consequence.
Rubens being desired to take under his instruction a young painter, the person who recommended him, in order to induce Rubens the more readily to take him, said, that he was already somewhat advanced in the art, and that he would be of immediate assistance in his back-grounds. Rubens smiled at his simplicity, and told him, that if the